The Taste of Tuscany – What to Try

Friday, October 26, 2012

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Those spending holidays in villas in Tuscany are spoiled for choice when it comes to culinary delights, with the region’s best restaurants, cafés and markets all an easy drive away. Favourite Italian dishes like pizza will be available wherever you go, and you can expect excellent quality; one of the joys of travelling in Tuscany, however, is the chance to sample its regional specialties. For anyone wishing to try Tuscan cuisine in the place that does it best – read on!

The principles of Tuscan cuisine hark back to the region’s agrarian past, when a meal needed to strike a perfect balance between simplicity, good nutrition and wonderful flavours. So when venturing out from their villas in Tuscany to seek out a great dinner, travellers should look out for places serving local dishes and using local products – which of course make the best ingredients for traditional Tuscan recipes. Vegetables and fruit from the surrounding hills, mushrooms from the mountain forests, fresh-baked bread, and local pork or game are the mainstays of Tuscan cooking. Look out for the regional favourite, ribollita (a hearty vegetable soup with bread), and pappardelle with boar or rabbit.

When it comes to dessert, every city seems to have its own treats in store. The version of tiramisu popular in Florence, zucotto, is a ‘must-try’, while in Siena look out for panforte – a rich cake made with fruit, nuts, honey and spices. Other favourites are almond biscuits – ricciarelli – and spiced biscuits – cavallucci – as well as the cakes associated with different seasons and festivals, such as schiacciata fiorentina, a cake shaped like Florence’s lily symbol, which is eaten at winter Carnival.

It’s not just meals out that can be enjoyed with a local touch – while staying in villas in Tuscany, add regional flair to your market-bought lunches with Tuscan olives, local bread, pecorino, as well as the cured meats enjoyed by Tuscans, such as finocchiona, which is made with fennel seeds. Buonissimo!

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